First-Timers Trip Report: August Family Fun Marathon

First of all I like to thank everyone here for the outstanding support on this platform and especially within my thread “Help Needed”
Our family consists of my DW38, DD14 & DS4. We were the first time in America since 1994 and the first time ever in WDW. With the planning of the vacation I started a good year ago, especially for WDW. According to my wife, we should actually take one parkday; after I had taken the planning it was 4 nights on property. 
WDW was not our only holiday destination; overall, we were four (!) weeks in America. Before we had visited friends in New England, we drove over New York, Philadelphia to Washington via Amtrak, had an inland flight to Miami, got a rental car to spend 10 days beach holiday in Florida (Kennedy Space Center, Ft.Myers Beach, Clearwater, Swam with manatees at crystal river).
A crazy “once in a lifetime” trip, where WDW should be the final highlight.
To abbreviate it once:
WDW was a real highlight and (almost) everything worked as planned.

Booking details:
08/22/17 - 08/26/17
Staying at POP Century Resort
(“Free”) Dining Plan
3-Day-Park Hopper tickets
Own (Rental) Car
Memory Maker

Touringplans and ADRs for:
08/22: Arrival Day / Disney Springs
08/23: Hollywood Studios
08/24: Magic Kingdom
08/25: Animal Kingdom
08/26: Departure Day / Back to Germany 

At this point, once a lot of strength and persistence for the next weeks/month, to all the inhabitants of Florida who were haunted by the terrible natural forces. We were very lucky that our holiday was over before Irma came.
We wish you all the best from Germany. :heart:


08/22 First Day: Arrival, orientation, shopping & resort hopping with happy ending

We started on Tuesday from Clearwater Beach, after we had some time to relax in Florida and had met Manatees just two days earlier (btw: an amazing experience - highly recommended).
After a 90 minute drive we arrived at 11:38 am in good spirits in wdw.

Thanks to the good signs we found directly our resort: Pop Century
A few days before my room was requested by fax from
I was very curious to see if we would receive the dream room (4455 – 60s, 4th floor, lakeview).
We did not get the exact desired room, but a comparable
(50s, 4th floor, lakeview - i think it was 2441). But the best thing was, the room was already ready.

So we could bring our bags to the room and go directly to the fun part of the day.
The room was nice, quiet, clean & basically what we have expected.
We went briefly to the foodcourt at everything pop to get our refillable mugs and fill them briefly with a refreshment.

Actually it was planned to drive with the disney transportation - in the end, however, we have driven everything with our car rental. A good decision. Even if the possibilities of the disney transport are super, you gain a lot of freedom with your own car.

First we went to disney springs - the autogram books were urgently needed. A book for my DS4 and a book for me. My DD14 is (currently) out of age. 
When we arrived in DS, we realized that we were all half starved. A good test for my intensive planning of how we could divide our DP credits. All TS credits were already fixed, for the QS credits I had previously created a detailed Excel sheet.
My suggestion was Wolfgang Puck Express. To have enough credits for the departure day, I suggested to order three instead of four menus.
The first success story immediately followed. The food was very tasty, enough to share and my family loved it and the expectations of the quality were exceeded. Thanks to the dining plan, there was no headache because of the prices. I know simple human psychology, but I would buy it at any time again!

Afterwards we were at the Disney Store, Lego Store, Goofy’s Candy Company (Snack credits), Starbucks, … a really nice “mall” with a diney touch. We liked it.
I would especially recommend the new disney photo studio, if you bought the memorymaker. There you can make very beautiful family photos and make the investment a little more worthwhile.

As lego collector and afol (adult fan of lego) I really enjoyed the giant lego sculptures

We had no time for the planned visit at Fantasia Mini Golf, but it was very warm anyway.
By the way - I actually underestimated a thing:
Florida heat in august. My god, it was hot - no real problem, but very, very hot.
Slowly it was time for our first ADR. Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort. Time for a little deluxe air. The resort is amazing and truly deluxe. My DW and I will definitely want to come back without children.  Maybe to renew our marriage one day.

Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner
The food was very good – we were pleasantly surprised with the quality.
The character interaction was surpreme, in particular the two stepsisters.
dresilla for example always tried to block the view on the dance of cinderella and the prince.

After the meal I planned a visit to the fireworks at the polynesian resort. In addition, I wanted to find out whether the hype around the dhole whips is entitled. I got a dhole whip float and it was great.
It is only a short walk from grand Floridian, so we left our car there.
The beach filled slowly with resort and non-resort guests. for the fireworks I had extra one tripod brought along. the electrical water pageant was a nice bonus, which I had not considered.
The view on the fireworks was great and also gets a big recommendation, if you would like to enjoy the show once without parktickets.

From poly we took the monorail back to the GF parking lot.
All in all a fantastic start at the happiest place on earth!!!

….to be continued….


Great report so far! Lovely pictures.


08/23 Second Day: First time in Hollywood…em…Disneys Hollywood Studios

Breakfast at Everything POP
A visit to Everything POP was planned for breakfast. As a European, especially as a German, we were very disappointed (but not surprised) by the breakfast quality in America.
Ok, Germany is certainly a land of bread, but objectively, credits for breakfast are a waste compared to Wolfgang Puck Lunch for example.

Next time I would skip resort breakfast in any case and prefer to snack by the morning.
But this has nothing to do with Disney – just a general thing compared to Germany.

Have you ever tried “Brötchen”?

After a short, comfortable ride, we arrived at the first park. Just in time for rope drop.
HS is really close by car from PoP.

The plan was to split: me & DD ropedrop R´n´R Coaster, then FP+ ToT
DW & DS FP+ Disney Jr. and we meet again after the first show.

But as a (first-time) liner you have to learn. Not everything will work out as planned. Actually it did perfectly but first thing behind the gates we saw Donald & Daisy. Even knowing, we will see them at diner, we could not resist meeting at least Donald. So…

Rope Drop with Donald

Afterwards, however, everything went according to touringplan:

Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith

Cool Coaster with catapult start. I had high expectations, but it delivered.

Tower of Terror

Signiture Ride and not to be missed.Great theming and storytelling. I thought it is just a normal freefall tower, but it is much more…

Disney Jr.

My DS4 enjoyed it a lot.

The schedule was perfect, except that we had to wait a little longer for the coaster than planned (due to meeting Donald). After the visit of the tower, we had to wait just a few minutes for DW&DS. Next we went to Toy Story (great ride).

The queue for Woody & Buzz was already very long, that we first met Cruz Ramirez.
Cars 3 is not even in the cinema here – but we have a picture with the new character.

I had a reservation for Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, as I absolutely wanted to see the restaurant from the inside. The TS credits were completely planned for character diner, that we had only shakes and ice cream and paid oop. Nice ambiente, but very (!) dark inside. This was btw the only expense beside the dining plan the whole trip.

Next thing, we all had FP+ for Star Tours (great ride with a lot of re-ride potential) and were able to meet Chip n Dale on our way.

We saw the Beauty & the Beast show and enjoyed it a lot. Great show.

As described in the “Unofficial Guide” I would agree, that Muppet*Vision 3D is not to be missed.
No Line, air conditioned & first of all funny, diversified show.

Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Beautiful, elaborate show. I would have preferred the pure stuntshow, instead of the added scenes with the filmteam. But, the gag with beating the “extra” was really cool.

We also saw Voyage of The Little Mermaid (nice as well and worth the visit).

Next we went to Hollywood & Vine for our ADR of

Summertime Dine with Minnie (VIP Package)
As the day before we enjoyed the food very much. After the many negative reviews I was worried, that we would be disappointed. But we liked the food almost like at 1900 Park Fare.
The character interaction were of course outstanding and the photo pass with donald was a really nice surprise I had not known.

After diner we went to Star Wars Launch Bay. As a huge Star Wars Fan I scheduled one hour. But we almost needed 40 minutes to meet Chewbacca (instead of the posted 20min). But again, totally worth it.
Best costume ever – not to be missed.

We had some free time until getting to our VIP seats of Fantasmic!, so we tried to meet Buzz&Woody again. The line was even longer, than in the morning, so we skipped.
It seems, that we had enough time to re-ride Toy Story Midway Mania.
But the posted wait was wrong and the actually wait forced us to give up and get to our reserved seating area. First, small frustration.

The VIP Fantasmic! Package is great. Best seats in the arena and you need to arrive just 20 minutes before schedule I would say. Worth the price to pay oop? I don´t know, but on the dining plan just a perfect use of TS credits. Good Food, the most popular characters meet you, VIP seating…
a real no-brainer.

The show was brilliant. Wow. The only complain would be, that it is very (!) loud and a little bit scary for children, like our DS4. But: NOT to be MISSED.
I only took one bad photo, because i rather wanted to enjoy the show:

In the end a great day and a perfect start to visit the parks of the world.

To be honest – next time I would exchange HS to Epcot. We missed Epcot and I would agree with many of you now:

All in all, Epcot currently offers more for the money. This will of course change with the construction of Star Wars Land and Toy Storyland. At the moment HS is just a very show-driven park where you can spend just one day.

…to be continued….


More fantastic photos! Thanks for sharing!


I would have to agree with you regarding the American breakfast vs. German breakfast. I visited a friend in Germany while I was still in high school. I remember being in awe of just how fabulous breakfast was - every morning! Even two decades later, I long for an evening out at a German pub and a morning after with that beautiful bread and a soft boiled egg. Mmmmmmmm!

Great trip report too! I really appreciate you mentioning each ride and a brief review of each. Very helpful!

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Thanks for the feedback. Finally someone who knows boiled eggs…

I added ride reviews, where i forgot for you. :slight_smile:


Wow! Great report! I love your pictures! Thanks!


Great report & pics!


Great report!


Love the pictures… Drizella standing in front of Cinderella and Prince is hysterical!


Thank you all for the sweet response.
I’m looking forward to share our mk day with you tomorrow.

For us everything worked out perfectly.
I cant think of a better way to enjoy the park in just one day.

But is was no coincidence, everything worked like planned :blush:


08/24 Third Day: Magic Kingdom….or……How to get the most magic into just one day

Where should I start? For me, Magic Kingdom was by far the toughest park to plan.
Knowing that we’ll have only one park-day (for +40 attractions) made me headache for almost half a year. Normally everyone would recommend two lands within MK per day.

In my opinion, a pre-opening breakfast for BoG, is the key to success to see as much as possible in only one day. At least with us it was definitely the case.

But first of all, you have to get an ADR for that. 180 Days in advance is totally normal for that.
You know that, I learned that and I did get the ADR 180 days in advance for 08:20am. Score!!!
If you are ever able to get this ADR, it simplifies planning enormously.
One thing I had to learn, although I had been studying Disney for a year:
If you are not staying in a deluxe hotel, Magic Kingdom is far, far away.
I knew that, but I didn´t know, that you had to take the monorail or ferry to get there from the parking lot. And you should be at the turnstiles at 07:45 at the latest.

Fortunately, my wife was responsible for getting us all up, that we were “accidentally” early enough.
I think we needed a short hour from the resort to the turnstiles. But luckily it was really relaxed.
If you can handle this, you will be able to get some “empty park pictures” with ease.
Additionally you will be able to ride 7DMT (and/or Peter Pan) without waiting.
After we had gone through the turnslites, we went straight to the hub. There you can get the loving castle pictures; in our case with no stranger blocking the view. I was very, very happy for that.

I even was so happy, that I wanted to compare the pictures with some taken later that day
(with crowds in the background):

After this important point was finished, we went directly to BoG. In my hands I proudly held our golden note, which we received at the entrance. (Pre-opening Breakfast ADR “conformation”)

Be Our Guest Restaurant
I had convinced my wife to pre-order the food per MDE-App. At the entrance of BoG everything went smoothly. We were allowed to enter at 08:00am and a few minutes later, the food was on the table.
Only minor thing was, that I did not wish for a dining room and my DS4 was a little afraid in the dark & loud westwing  The ambiente is of course top-notch and the food was good (for breakfast especially). We are very often in france and i can assure “authentic” french food looks a little different. :wink:

I think we were able to leave BoG at 08:40am without rushing at all. There was a short line to 7DMT and we had to wait for approx. 10 minutes and then were able to ride the second train that day.
Just perfect. No rush, no crowds, just pure fun!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Great theming from a real classic, nice coaster, kids-friendly.
Not worth a 120min wait, but a really nice family attraction – everyone will enjoy for sure.

Peter Pan’s Flight
After the mine, we went straight to Peter Pan. Looking back, we could have driven 7DMT a second time, because PPF opens at 9 o’clock on time. We arrived there approx. 08:55am.
You will be able to ride it before the crowd hits, but it opens only directly after the welcome show.
We all liked the ride, but waiting longer than 25min would be a waste of touring time in my opinion.
The ride is lovely, but very, very short.
After we left PPF we saw a huge wave of crowds arriving at new fantasyland.
From that point on for the next hour, we were always ahead of the main-crowd.

Look, how empty the park still was behind 7DMT:

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid
I liked this ride much more than PPF. I don´t know why; maybe because it is longer or because I like the movie better. But it is a must-do for me. Pure disney magic.

Meet Ariel in her Grotto
Still no crowd, so let´s see ariel without any wait.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Signiture ride of course and a must-see. You can’t go to magic kingdom without a flight on this loving character. I even thought it was much higher, than expected.

Mad Tea Party
Another classic signature ride. My wife gets dizzy easy, so I had to ride.
And yes, I also, had to stop my children, not to spin too fast 

My DS4, as a coaster- newcomer really liked this (boring, slow, short) coaster.
He was able to ride it three times in a row.

Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station
Nice little playground, were you urgently need spare clothes for the kids.
My Son and I, had to run through it one time nevertheless. 

Meet Merida
A brief spontaneous (crowdless) meeting with merida. It was not planned at all.
The autogram book filled “slowly” but surely.

After that it was approx. 10:30am and we had already finished new fantasyland.
Perfect and even better as planned. I was really proud, that everything worked out THAT well.
Now the next fixed thing was our first FP+ for Space Mountain (DD & me) and Tomorrowland Speedway for DW & DS. So we headed for Tomorrowland.
The crowd were there already of course, so we had “no chance” to ride Buzz Lightyear like planned.
No problem, after we had first oriented, we went on the ride with the shortest waiting time.

People Mover
What a stroke of luck; I love this ride. This one was one of the first attractions I planned to cut; fortunately it happens differently. This ride is perfect for relaxing a brief moment. It allows a good overview of tomorrowland and even sneak-peaks of the near attractions. Now I know why this ride is so popular, but is still considered a “secret tip” without crowds.

FP+ Space Mountain 12am
Cool dark coaster. I had high expectations and it nearly delivered. It was fun, it was dark, but it is real slow. But bad is different. In the case of the three mountains; for me the weakest.

After the ride, I have a great (maybe common) tip for everyone who bought the memory maker.
The two picture booth at the souvenir shop after the ride accept memory maker.
You do not have to buy or print pictures, but you get all three in your account “for free”.

FP+ Tomorrowland Speedway
My DS4 enjoyed it of course.
Nothing that special, but for my wife it was much better than waiting in front of space mountain.
She is really afraid of the dark .

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
I bet, that is one of the most underrated shows in WDW. I would go there every time for sure.
The show is funny and very well made. The interaction with the audience is divine and i´m sure it will be a totally different experience every time you go. Don´t miss it.
In our case every “choosen one” played their role perfectly.

That said, we were almost finished tomorrowland before the 2pm parade. In fact we had enough time to slowly move to frontierland. I followed the advice to search a good viewing spot near peco bill´s. That (again) turned out to be perfect. We found a perfect spot half an hour before the parade starts. So DW&DS blocked that spot while DD & me got “something” to eat. That was not that easy on the dining plan to be honest, but we got a delicious lobster roll from Columbia Harbour House and some sides as snacks. The goal was to bridge the time until the dinner.

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
The parade is pure disney magic and a must-see. I would not like to watch it from third row, but a front row view makes it pure joy to watch. A lot of photo opportunities as well:

FP+ Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Second mountain that day; signature ride. Longer than expected and truly an must-do family ride everyone will love.

FP+ Splash Mountain
Third and last mountain. Much longer than expected.
As mentioned before it was hot – very hot. 

What is better for refreshment? Right; Nothing!!! Pure fun.
Look at my silly cooling band. I almost lost it one second after the photo was taken.
In addition, I was very surprised about the beautiful theming of this ride.
Maybe it is because the movie “Song of the South” is totally unknown here in Germany.

I checked the MDE App for 4th FP+ directly, but most interesting things were gone for the next hour.
So we scheduled for the early evening after dinner. I loved to go to the Haunted Mansion, my chicken-scary family preferred Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin and wanted to meet Buzz after that. Ok with me – single rider for almost an hour.

Pirates of the Caribbean
This was one of the rides we reschedule. We still had a lot of time until dinner. So we actually waited almost 40 min for that. Little to long for that ride, but ok in the end.
I surely liked the several Jack Sparrows, because they look very much like Johnny Depp.

After that we tried to get into Crystal Palace a little bit earlier, but it was still to early.
So we had enough time for…

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
“Just” a copy of Dumbo. If you have to choose one, I would ride dumbo. But the ride is fun for the whole family as well. Unfortunately we missed getting the autograph from aladdin and jasmin.

The Crystal Palace
Copy and paste here. Tasty food, perfect character interaction, perfect use of TS credits & a really nice break from touring. We would go there again, any time. even my worry about the early time was unjustified. If you start that early, you will be hungry at 05:05pm.

After that fabulous meal, we split for our 4th FP+.

On my way to the mansion I saw, that Mickey’s PhilharMagic was just about to start, so I took my chances. My DW just told me, that she is not interested in another 3D-Movie; but I was looking forward to see it anyway.

The show were as good as I hoped and I was very glad to see it. In my opinion maybe the best 3D show in wdw. At least, what I saw. Nice effect with the growing screen…

4. FP+ Haunted House
Pure cheesy ghost fun. There is al lot to see. You are not able to experience every detail after just one ride. And I learned to love every photo pass area. The one at the exit of this ride especially.
Perfect for a 4th FP+ (it was an expert tip within my “help needed” thread).

4. FP+ Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Weak compared to Toy Story Mania! but still fun. In any case, I was not very disappointed to miss it.
My DS loved it of course and the timing to meet the rest of the party again could not be better.

The rest of the family even had time to (finally) meet buzz.

My girls needed a refreshment from Starbucks, so we went to main street.
My plan was to see the jungle cruise before the fireworks, but my DS14 convinced me to look for a good viewing space.
A lot of people started to gather around main street. Although we had to wait almost an hour, it was the best idea of the whole day. It was absolutely worth it.

Happily Ever After
I can not say it often enough what a must-see this show is. It is simply:

A M A Z I N G !!!
Best fireworks show I saw this far, ever!!! And I even liked the projections more than the fireworks.
All hand in hand with the emotional disney music. Just wonderful and nothing compared with seeing it from poly beach. My DD14 in fact cried, so emotionally moved she was!
I rather enjoyed the show, than try to take pictures. I hope it is ok to use one stock photo instead.
DON’T MISS IT – it was not only a highlight at wdw – it was one of THE highlights the whole vacation.

After that we took the ferry to the parking lot and went exhausted but happy back to PoP.
I really can’t describe how wonderful EVERYTHING goes that day.

….to be continued….


I do not think I mentioned how much I enjoy your attraction summaries! Combined with your pictures I am really enjoying your trip reports!

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I’m absolutely loving your trip reports, and taking lots of notes! We are trying to determine where we will watch HEA in November as first-timers…where were you situated? It looks like you had a great spot

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Donald. Duck. Is. Hilarious.
Best. Photo. Ever!

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Here, look at this link
Fireworks View.

We were situated at nr. 8 near starbucks - it was perfect.


Thanks so much! I think that’s our spot. :smile:

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It is not only donald…but i love him, too.
His autograph: Donald Duck #1


Great report and love the pictures.

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